15:16.87 N 61:22.57W
We left Saint Pierre and headed for my old home, the island of Dominica.
During the early seventies the Reid family lived in Roseau at a place called
Goodwill. My dad, or to give his correct title for once,
Capt. Joseph Reid RN & Bar MBE, was sent out here by the British
Government to explore the possibilities of setting up a viable and profit making
fishing industry for the island. It had at that time a small subsidiary
existence depending on a few local dug out canoes. Neil and I were educated at
the all boys Dominica Grammar School whilst my sisters, Alison and Louise were
taught at the all girl Convent, run by nuns. My mother, Mary or Mamie, as she is
known is a teacher and also taught there. Neil and I were the only white kids in
the school as were my sisters.
Anyway, Tuesday morning saw us charging once again on a broad reach with
every scrap of sail up towards Dominica. Bev helmed for most of the way and at
one point the wind was so strong she was almost calling for a reef. With the
wind just slightly abaft the beam Swiftwing , or as she is called in certain
members of Campbeltown and Cushendall sailing Clubs, The Brick, owing to her
massively strong Ferro construction, ploughed on at 8 knots + on her passage
across the Martinique channel. From the moment we cleared the land at the North
end of Martinique we could see Dominica twenty five miles away with her four
thousand foot mountains in the clouds. As we got closer Scotts head started to
become distinguished from the rest of the greenery and before long we could see
Roseau, distinguished by a couple of cruise ships alongside the deepwater port.
Bev remarked that it looked very similar to Mingulay, with the row of seven
volcanoes indeed looking like the seven hills of Mingulay. We sailed on past
Scotts head and in towards our anchorage off the Anchorage Hotel. Two boat boys
(men) came out to meet us to guide us in, each in their own boats, then started
to shout and swear in at each other for trying to steal each others business. At
this I put the throttle down and let them get on with it. In an effort to stay
in front of us to “guide” us in, meanwhile continuing the dispute, they were
both in real danger of being run down by Swiftwing, by this time travelling at 8
knots under engine. The owner of the Anchorage Hotel later apologised for this
display and said that they were both to receive stern letters from the Hotel
Anyway, all is harmonious again and our boat boy took me direct to the
Immigration then got us fresh bananas, plantain (a type of banana that is fried
or boiled and used as a vegetable or savoury provision)
and fresh pineapple. He also brings us fresh bread in the morning. That
evening we didn’t go ashore but swam off the boat and ate aboard.
Next morning we hired a car and visited our old house at No 3, Jepson Lane
and found an elderly gent standing on the road outside. We spoke to him, found
out that he had bought the house in 1978 and that he was an ex-cop! What are the
chances. He was very and asked us in to meet his wife and see the house. Bev was
a bit alarmed when she saw two men go into the house with guns, to which John
said no, they were huge guns. With visions of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman,
(Long way round) inadvertently visiting a Mafia house, we entered and found that
the retired cop now did security for the banks and building societies and sure
enough parked across the road was his own security/bullion type armoured van.
They were very nice and it was like being beamed back from 1972 except they had
a TV - no such thing in my day. The house was in very good condition well looked
after and loved by the very gracious lady who was proud to show us around. We
said our goodbyes and drove around the corner to our next house No 3, Edens
Lane. This house was new when we moved in and was, in that day, absolutely huge
, the sitting room is 57 feet long!
They say you should never go back and it was a bit disappointing to see that
the house looked a bit shabby
and had lost most of it’s fine tropical greenery that used to give privacy
and shade to the front.
I then visited an old family friend, Delia Winstanley then my old mate, Arden
Shillingford’s mother, to try and track him down. He is now working in St.
Thomas, so we‘ll look him up when we get there.
In the afternoon we drove up to Trafalgar Falls and after a strenuous hike
over a boulder field we were rewarded by the lovely cool/cold swim at the base
of the waterfall. It’s much bigger than I remember it and well worth the effort.
Once back at the Forestry Dept café a guy asked if we were Americans. Bev said
no, that we were from Scotland. “Ah Scotland, I used to work in Inverness, it
was very cold”. Turns out he worked for the Hydro Board at the dams, on an
exchange visit prior to setting up hydro power in Dominica.
Photos to follow.